When I first heard of Julia Zeigler-Haynes' new book Today's Special, a collection of the recreated last meals of death row inmates, I was all "oh hell no, no you don't, idea stealer." That's because the original copy of the painting featured in this video, #770 (Castillo), by Portland's Ahren Lutz, is hanging in my kitchen:
On closer look, Zeigler Haynes' project is alike in inspiration but very different in execution, and I think to a different effect:
I was attracted to Ahren's piece not only because we were roommates at the time and I grew attached to it over the course of the months it hung in the living room (you may even have seen it there, in what old time-y Portland art-party folks might remember as the PS What? house and gallery), but because of the lustiness of Castillo's request; it's a ridiculous amount of intense food: 24 soft shell tacos, six enchiladas, six tostadas, two whole onions, five jalapeños, two cheeseburgers, a chocolate milkshake, a quart of milk, and one lousy pack of cigarettes that they wouldn't give him. I love the audacity of the amount, and I like to think that he ate every last bit, savoring the sensations for the very last time in a final "fuck you" salvo to his impending doom. (It doesn't hurt that he's quite handsome, there, taking up an entire kitchen wall.) On the other hand Zeigler-Haynes' interpretations seem infantilized and disempowered, and therefor all the more depressing, whereas Castillo doesn't depress me at all. I'm not sure where the rest of Ahren's pieces from this series are or whether he still makes them, but if we become friends I'll invite you over for dinner sometime and you can check out the original. In the meantime, if you share my prison/food interests, you can see more shots from Zeigler-Haynes' book here.
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